A country house kitchen never goes cold because many inhabitants need to be fed according to their status. What do servants eat, and what is served at the lord’s table?  And where are the groceries coming from?

1780 – 1830

Spoilt for choice

Exquisite ingredients from near and afar

Do you prefer coffee from America or from Asia? This is a question that country house owners also asked themselves. In this video, Anne Sophie Overkamp explains where coffee and other groceries came from and who was allowed to consume them in a country house.

1880 – 1930

Our daily bread

Eating rules in country houses

Country house owners still loved fine delicacies around 1900. For their everyday meals, however, they contented themselves with those goods which their garden supplied or which could be purchased locally. Nevertheless, food was an important expenditure,  because it was not just the owning family that needed to be fed. The many servants also wanted their food three times a day – every day. Some houses had rules which explained who was entitled to which food at which time in which space. Yet, every country house inhabitant could rely on one thing: enough food for the day –  and sometimes even an extra allowance.

Schellenberg palace had strict rules regarding food. As you can read in the excerpt, not everyone ate the same things.

1945 – 1990

Cheese salad for the Chancellor

Simple food as a trend

At times, country house owners still enjoyed stately feasts after the Second World War. This was particularly true of family celebrations. On other days, however, one made an effort to eat simply. On the one hand, this saved a decent amount of money; on the other, it was also a statement, emphasizing the similarities between them and the rest of the population. Historians have called this trend a “cult of sparseness”. For example, Nikolaus, Jörg, and Michaela, Counts von Adelmann regularly ate bread soup with bacon between 1950 and 1970 – a typical meal of poorer people. When Chancellor Konrad Adenauer visited their palace in Hohenstadt in 1959, he was fed cheese salad – a regional but not particularly fancy meal. His foreign minister Heinrich von Brentano was luckier. He visited Hohenstadt a few months earlier than Adenauer and was served stewed veal “Bajazzo” with a whisky sauce. While there was still a female cook to prepare the meal for the two statesmen, in many other country houses, the owners had to cook for themselves after 1945.

Would you like to cook stewed veal as it was served to Heinrich von Brentano?

Would you like to cook stewed veal as it was served to Heinrich von Brentano?


Day labourer






Fresh strawberries for his lordship

Johann Störrle, Day labourer

Yesterday, we sent the children to go and look for wild strawberries. They did eat a couple themselves but still brought home a bucketful. Oh my, I wouldn’t have minded enjoying the sweet fruit myself but I know that his lordship loves strawberries. And indeed, Cook gave me some pennies for them. Not that much longer and I will have the money for a new pair of shoes!

Good food is hard work

Gertrude Löffelholz, Housekeeper

Can you believe it? Day in day out, all of this work? We’ve got two kitchens here – one for the family, one for the servants. Two female cooks and one chef. Add three kitchen maids and an apprentice cook. The best time of the year is when their lordships are travelling. Why? Well, the kitchen stays here, as does the chef. And he has to do something with the leftovers. And then we get to eat them.

Special occasions require food like in the olden days!

Ursula von Klagenfeld, Proprietress

My husband and I will have our fiftieth wedding anniversary tomorrow. The whole family will already arrive today. The house will be full of people – including my many grandchildren and two great grandchildren. So much food in the kitchen … I am glad that the cook from the village inn is going to prepare it. It’s too much for me. But tonight, I think a good old bologna salad will be fine. My children always liked it! I’ll just make a quick trip to the butcher’s.


The significance of food

All country house inhabitants could rely on being fed well  – even though there were significant gradations:  Food underlined social differences and servants were given simpler meals.  However, over time, the symbolic value of food changed and owners began to eat simpler as well, presenting this as a matter of persuasion.

Guests are knocking at your door. Will you prepare something special to eat? So haben die Besucher:innen abgestimmt:

Yes, certainly. Only the best for my guests.

No, I will serve my guests my usual fare.

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